Building connections for careers thanks to Gettysburg College parents

group crouches for a photo under an Optimus Prime statue
Students pose at Universal Studios during the January 2019 brand marketing and strategy immersion trip to Orlando, Fla.

Gettysburgians excel in the professional world—about 98 percent of recent graduates find employment or graduate school placement within a year of graduating, going on to do great work with companies and organizations that make an impact on an international scale.

To help make this possible are the parents of Gettysburg College students. Thanks to the opportunities they offer that provide exposure to various industries through externships and immersion trips, Gettysburgians become leaders and changemakers in a professional setting.

Greg Edelson ’87, P’18, P’21; Rob Goodwin P’21; and Paul Ivans P’22 use their professional networks to help students learn and grow. Partnering with the College’s Center for Career Engagement, they lead trips to Orlando, Fla., and New York City with the goal of preparing students for their future careers.

Julia and Greg Edelson standing next to their son Jack Edelson
Parent Leadership Council members Julia ’86 and Greg ’87 Edelson P’18, P’21 with their son, Jack Edelson ’21

Opportunities in Orlando

Edelson’s connection to Gettysburg dates back to 1983, when he joined the College as an undergraduate student, following in his father’s footsteps. Edelson, a parent of two Gettysburgians, now serves as the CEO of ValidFill, a company that utilizes radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology in customizable drinkware to enable sustainable, prepaid refillable technology in drink dispensers.

Edelson used connections with executives and employees in the family vacation industry in Orlando, Fla., to put together a weeklong brand marketing and strategy immersion trip for Gettysburg students over the past seven years. There, students learn about business operations for Disney World, Universal Studios, Sea World, LEGOLAND, Coca-Cola, and Loews Hotels & Resorts.

“I just thought, ‘We know everybody in the market,’” Edelson said. “It’d be nice to introduce [students] to people that have all levels of brands.”

In addition to tours of Florida’s theme parks, students attend presentations and engage with representatives from the companies to learn insights about each business. At the end of the week, students compile their findings to create a brand marketing and content strategy presentation for executives at Sea World.

“We do this immersion experience, and kids who basically don't know each other have to go out perform together a week later,” Edelson said. “[They improve] their ability to collaborate, communicate, articulate, team up, and find a role, which is really hard.”

The packed days in Orlando require students to practice professionalism while speaking to executives, touring the grounds, and listening to presentations.

“Participating in the brand marketing and strategy immersion trip to Orlando was an extremely enriching experience that provided me with a unique opportunity to improve my professional skills while learning about the Orlando vacation industry from executives of world-renowned organizations,” Amanda Hansen ’22 said.

Networking in New York

Goodwin and Ivans also offer an immersion trip experience that allows students to bolster their professional network. Students will emerge from their two-day digital innovation and healthcare trip in New York City having networked with and learned from employers in industries varying from healthcare to finance.

“This is the opportunity to visit big and small companies with many different cultures, which allows students to get a better sense of what type of environment they might want to work in when they graduate,” Goodwin said.

Goodwin, vice president and head of the Pfizer Global Product Development Operations Center of Excellence, worked with Ivans, CEO of digital innovation strategy consulting company Evolution Road, to bring together employers from Pfizer, WebMD, Verily/Google, IBM Watson Health, Apple, Deloitte, Prognos, StartUp Health, and NY Presbyterian Hospital. They aimed to allow students to secure connections with professionals ahead of graduation. These connections, Goodwin noted, are key to landing jobs in the long run.

“[This immersion trip is] a great way to make professional connections and learn more about areas that you might not have considered previously,” Goodwin said.

Throughout the trip, students have the chance to hone their ability to network and communicate like a professional. They also get an inside look at the office environment and ask questions about the operations at a large corporation.

“Hearing from different employees about their work within the company but also their career journey was extremely helpful,” said immersion trip participant Peyton Lessard ’21. “The trip challenged me to think critically and to ask specific questions about the employer, company, or product being discussed.”

Students posing for a group photo in business attire
Greg Edelson ’87, P’18, P’21 (bottom left) with students at the SeaWorld headquarters in Orlando, Fla., where they pitched brand marketing recommendations to company executives.

Achieving professional goals

Working alongside the Center for Career Engagement, Edelson, Goodwin, and Ivans established these opportunities in order for students to develop professional skills that they could take with them upon graduation—and it doesn’t stop there.

These immersion trips are only two of the Career Center’s various offerings, in addition to the Gettysburg Network of more 30,000 active and engaged alumni. Gettysburg helps students find externships, internships, and job shadowing opportunities, ensuring that Gettysburgians enter the job market with a strong network and professional experience.

By Phoebe Doscher ’22
Photos courtesy of Greg Edelson ’87, P’18, P’21
Posted: 07/20/21